William Douglas has been writing The Color of Hockey blog since 2012. Douglas joined in 2019 and writes about people of color in the sport. Today, he profiles Nia Obotette, author of “Exploring All I Can Do -- Hockey,” part of a series of four illustrated children’s books that she created to inspire children of color to try so-called “non-traditional” sports for their communities.

Nia Obotette says she became an illustrated children’s book author by necessity.

“I was looking for a book for my niece and couldn’t find one,” Obotette said. “And I came across a statistic that shows a lack of representation in picture books of characters of color, written by people of color, illustrated by people of color. I say ‘out of necessity’ because, for me, when I saw that statistic, it moved me to want to do something.”

That need led to “Exploring All I Can Do -- Hockey,” part of a new four-book series that Obotette authored to introduce young readers of color to so-called “non-traditional sports” for their communities and inspire them to try them.


In addition to hockey, the “Exploring All I Can Do” series takes readers on journeys through fencing, snowboarding, skiing and triathlon. The stories educate as well as entertain by providing a glossary of “fun keywords,” important terms used in each sport.

The mission is obviously personal for Obotette, a 49-year-old Milwaukee resident and graduate of historically Black Tuskegee University in Alabama, who became a triathlete and avid skier after college.

She was so determined to show kids of color the realm of possibilities in other sports that she began a Kickstarter drive to raise $10,000 to publish the series. The books are available at

“I feel like there’s a need to tell this story this way, for the younger Nia, for other generations” Obotette said. “These books are my way of having people see people of color in a different light and know that there is a wealth of things we can do, that we can achieve that we haven’t yet. It inspires me to keep going because I do think, in some ways, it does make a difference.”


Obotette said she was always intrigued by hockey and became even more fascinated when a co-worker took her to see Milwaukee of the American Hockey League live in 2010.

“I thought the puck was going to hit, and I was so scared the whole game,” she said. “But it was fast paced, it was exciting when I went. Later, I thought, ‘How cool would it be to see a female character of color doing hockey?’ I was thinking about my nieces.”

The 40-page hockey book, illustrated by Blessing Odom, tells the story of a young girl who goes to a game with her parents to see her big sister play for Team Umoja.

“Hurray! Hurray! Today my big sister will play. It seems like just yesterday, she was taking ballet,” the book reads. “But now, hockey is her dream, and she’s the best scorer on the team. I am so excited to see her game; I know all her teammates’ names.”

At the end, the book explains the meanings of several hockey terms from “goalie” to “jump the boards” to “Zamboni.”

“To be honest with you, what I originally knew is from what I had seen on TV,” Obotette said. “Part of my series is about exploring. It’s me also exploring and inviting other people to explore.”


It was a learning experience for Obotette’s illustrator, Ossom, who lives in Nigeria and had never been to a hockey game.

“Her illustrations came from YouTube videos, me telling her, watching instructional videos on playing hockey and different things like that so I could at least communicate to her my vision of what I thought the book would be,” Obotette said. “Doing the Zamboni, I had to send her pictures of a Zamboni.”

Obotette’s research also taught her that Black women are making strides in hockey. She acknowledges the Black Girl Hockey Club in the book for “providing a welcoming space for girls.”

The group was founded by Renee Hess, a Riverside, California resident in 2018 to inspire and sustain passion for hockey within the Black community, specifically among Black women, and provide access to the sport through education and scholarships.


Obotette said she’s proud to see players like Laila Edwards, Sophie Jaques and Sarah Nurse rise in hockey. Edwards, a 19-year-old University of Wisconsin forward, became the first Black player on the U.S. women’s national team when she made her debut on Nov. 11 in the Rivalry Series against Canada.

Jaques, a 23-year-old defenseman who will play for Boston of the Professional Women’s Hockey League when it starts in January, played for the Canadian women’s national team for the first time on Nov. 11.

The former Ohio State University star became the first Black player to receive the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, presented to the top player in NCAA Division I women’s hockey, on March 18.

Nurse, a 28-year-old forward, won a gold medal at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, where she led Canada with 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) in seven games.

“Doesn’t all that make your heart sing?” Obotette said. “And to know that there’s an HBCU (Tennessee State University) that’s going to have hockey? It makes my heart sing.”

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